Reflections on the “Free Market” & Its Ideological Fruits

For all of the lip service paid to “citizen engagement”, the last thing that is wanted by the upper class and elites in any society— including supposedly democratic ones— is for citizens to be informed about what’s really going on in their world. The fetishization of choice, which is the central ethos of free market belief, serves as a sedative that makes the creation or continuation of community impossible.

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Farewell, Esquire?

Esquire— in my teenage years, in my early-20s, and for decades preceding my existence and my father's existence and even my grandfather's existence— was a bible for young men who wanted to impress, charm, improve (however marginally), and, most importantly, engage with society bearing an identity other than the expected TV show-stooge or meatheaded fratboy. In short, it was a magazine for young men who wanted to emerge, not slouch. And how could a magazine like that ever die?

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Feeding The Beast

Despite the many instances of groupthink-censorship that have occurred on university campuses in the past few years, we are constantly told not to take social justice-oriented student movements seriously, or if we do, to understand that "it's not really about free speech", but about some other motive not even mentioned by student protesters themselves (like "the corporate structuring of universities" or the "rethinking of what it means to be an intellectual"). At best such consolations are wishful thinking, and at worst they are diversions. The disruption of speakers invited to campuses, and the acts of coercion that occur during protests, are about free speech.

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The Origins & Differences Of Rights & Morals

Lately I've been doing a lot of thinking about rights and what their relation is to morality. What exactly are "rights" in the first place? Where do they come from? Are rights "fixed" universal things or are rights subjective? What is the difference between rights and moral truth? As I continue to think about this subject, it appears more and more unlikely to me that rights are "self-evident" and are given to us by a "creator". Might there be a solid case for rights being created and protected by the societies we live in? 

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Jefferson & His Enemies

To read Jefferson is not to read the archaic and irrelevant ramblings of a pile of bones. To read Jefferson, instead, is to read the warm correspondence of a curious old friend. I admit that to have such deep affinity for a man who died 165 years before I was born is, to put it mildly, strange. Normally when one thinks of heroes, role models, and intellectual father-figures or mentors, the mind travels only to the living and normally to the near. Nevertheless I do have a deep affinity for Jefferson and consider myself a disciple of the Enlightenment he held so close to his heart. Yet to speak of Thomas Jefferson in such glowing terms is to find that even he is not immune from the wrath of the Holy Order of Perpetual Offense.

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Why Write About History?

At our core, no matter who we are, the central themes of life are found to be worth preserving by us. Themes such as triumph, pain, happiness, love, and loss. By seeing clearly that the states of being that were a part of the people we read about in history are also a part of us, we see that the saga of man will always contain hope. Thus, to write about history is not to fall victim to nostalgia or idealizing the past, but to instill in people an appreciation of the here-and-now through tales of those who lived (and felt) before we did.

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There Is Beauty In The Finite

We all go through moments in life when life itself seems to have lost its flavor, its zest. Whether the moment in question comes when our alarm goes off in the morning and we wake up to the recurring realization that we hate our jobs, or whether the moment comes at a time of illness, or a bad breakup or divorce, or at a time of financial difficulty, sometimes we think— to steal a phrase from my grandmother— that life in its entirety is, and will indefinitely be, "the pits". When this feeling of existential drag occurs, we try to find ways of coping that are often ineffective: we shop till we drop, we overeat, we drink too much, or we move to a different place hoping that we won't follow ourselves to our new destination. But if you are wanting your life to go from black-and-white to color again, I would submit that there is an easier, cheaper, and much more effective way to make that happen: think more about your own death.

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A Not-So-Finely-Tuned Argument

Our world is a beautiful place, naturally speaking. Anybody who has walked the Serengeti or has wrapped their arms around a Redwood tree or has looked at a snowy mountain from afar or has gone scuba diving in an ocean knows this. The world is an incredible place teeming with "endless forms most beautiful and wonderful". The natural world can be so breathtaking in fact, that a single person, in awe of their own smallness in the midst of such grandeur, can feel that this beauty must be by design. Such a feeling is perfectly normal. How can one look at the Great Barrier Reef, or the multicolored-squiggles on the body of a Mandarin fish, or the speed of a hummingbird's wings, or the spots on a giraffe, or the spellbinding glow of lava pouring from a volcano, and not conclude that the world isn't one big lovely painting? And doesn't a painting require a painter? But there is a problem with viewing the world strictly through the lens of its beauty.

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